Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Pens’ 2-1 shootout victory. 1. Flower Power
Marc-Andre Fleury was without question the best Pens player on the ice tonight, especially at the beginning and end of the game. I thought the Canes were the stronger team in the first period, as they had a lot of zone time and created a handful of real quality chances. Fleury was there each time to make the tremendous save – diving, glove, pad, you name it. The netminder allowed his teammates to get their legs under them and keep plugging away until Phil Kessel’s goal, and continued his strong play from there – especially in the third period and overtime. He was unreal, making save after save as the teams traded chance after chance. 2. The Thrill
Phil Kessel was shooting anything and everything in this game. He had four attempts – three on goal and one just wide – within the first three-and-a-half minutes alone. It was one of those nights where you just felt like one was going to eventually fall for him the way he was getting the puck on net. And sure enough, one did. Late in the second period of a scoreless game, Matt Cullen found Kessel at the bottom of the circle, and even though it was a bad angle, he quickly snapped it at the net – and it managed to slide through the narrowest space between Ward and the post as the goalie slid over. It was a huge goal for the team, and as head coach Mike Sullivan said afterward, he was happy that Kessel was the one to score it. 3. Fighting Through
Unfortunately, we didn’t see another offensive explosion from the Pens like we did in the last meeting – a 5-0 Pittsburgh win on Jan. 17. Instead, this looked like it could be another frustrating night for the Pens. I mean that in the sense they were playing well and got better as the night went on, but you almost felt like they were in danger of getting shut out for the second straight game the way Carolina was playing defensively. They looked like the Rangers at times the way they were blocking shots and collapsing in front of Cam Ward during the Pens’ lengthy offensive-zone shifts. And in overtime, the Canes goaltender was just phenomenal – robbing the trio if Sidney Crosby, Carl Hagelin and Kris Letang numerous times. But the Pens continued to stick with it all night and got the extra point.